Walker Stays Positive, Breaks Slump

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Arkansas freshman catcher Brian Walker appears to have broken out of a prolonged slump with two hits during Sunday's 4-3 loss against Tennessee in Nelson Stadium.

In his last 29 at-bats, Walker only had three hits and was batting .177. He went 2 for 3 with a run on Sunday and also had a hit in Friday's 4-1 Arkansas win.

"It felt good to get some hits," Walker said. "It's been really frustrating, but the coaches have been working with me and staying positive the whole time because you've got to stay positive.

"If I go up there thinking ‘I'm going to get a hit,' then there's a better chance of something positive happening."

It's not like Walker hasn't been hitting the ball hard, it's just that most of his line drives have been right at defenders.

"Yeah, I've been hitting the ball pretty well," Walker said. "And finally (Sunday), I got a couple to go through. Hopefully, that will continue."

Despite the lack of productivity, the left-handed hitting Walker has stayed in the lineup because of his defensive play behind the plate. He leads the Southeastern Conference by throwing out 58 percent (14 of 24) of the runners attempting to steal.

He was 2 for 2 throwing out would-be runners during this weekend's series against the Volunteers, the team which is second in the league to Arkansas in stolen bases.

"The pitchers are quick to the plate and that's the biggest thing," Walker said. "So I don't have to rush and I've just been focusing on throwing it through and making an accurate throw.

"If I get them, I get them. If I don't, then I'll get them next time."

Even more impressive is the fact that Walker has been calling the pitches, instead of getting each pitch signaled in from the dugout.

"(UA pitching) Coach (Dave) Jorn kind of handed it over to me lately," Walker said. "Because I can kind of see what's going on with the hitters and where they're at. Plus, I can see what (a pitcher) has working. Most of the time, we're pretty much on the same page as to what should be thrown.

"It's a work in progress, but we're starting to figure it out."

Short Stint

Another game, another Arkansas starter who failed to make it past the second inning.

Sunday starter Shaun Seibert seemed to focus on every other batter in his fifth start. After throwing only one pitch -- a ball -- to Alex Suarez, Seibert was relieved with two outs in the second inning. He was behind in the count on all eight batters he faced, including walking three (Eric King, Chase Headley and Julio Borbon) on four straight pitches.

During Saturday's 8-2 loss, Hogs starter James Gilbert was relieved with one out in the second. In the last 16 games, only one Arkansas starter (Nick Schmidt in Friday's 4-1 win) has pitched past the fifth inning.

Double Dive

Making up for an error earlier in the inning, Hogs third baseman Clay Goodwin made a diving stab to his left and then had to dive again to tag out Borbon, the lead runner who was attempting to move from second to third on the play.

Play Of The Day

Goodwin's diving stab was almost as impressive as the play Hogs shortstop Scott Hode made to end the seventh inning.

On a hard grounder in the hole, Hode made a sliding stop to his right on the grass in short left field. From his knees, Hode made a perfect throw to first in time to nail J.P. Arencibia by half a step.

Hot Ham

Arkansas sophomore Danny Hamblin extended his team-best hitting streak to 12 games with a single to left in the fifth inning. It equals Hamblin's longest streak this season and he finished 2 for 5 Sunday.

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